How to Decide if You Need a Probate Lawyer

Losing a loved one is one of the worst things that can happen to any of us. It is something that most of us try hard to avoid thinking about. When they pass away, the legal process of probate can be pretty complicated. To ensure that you don’t have a troublesome process, you need a probate lawyer.

You can’t take it with you

Think about all of the assets we accumulate over our lifetimes; personal property, houses, vehicles, bank accounts, businesses, lawsuits, loans, debts, etc. It starts to add up! To make matters more complicated, survivors often have to find a way to manage all of their loved ones’ remaining assets. These are the kind of things that a will would address. The job of executing the will is left to the personal representative. Your personal representative collects the assets, pays the debts, and eventually distributes the assets of your lost loved one.

Who does what?

When someone dies, a personal representative will oversee the estate. If someone has a valid will, they are the executor. An executor’s role is to distribute the remaining assets as outlined in the will. If someone does not have a will, then the court will appoint someone, and that person is known as the court-appointed administrator.

Do all assets go through probate?

Not all assets have to go through probate. For example, if a married couple holds their property in joint tenancy, the property will go to the surviving spouse in the event of one of their deaths. Another example, if a man names his son as the designated beneficiary in his life insurance policy, those assets will transfer to his son, and they will not have to go through probate. The same thing applies to a retirement account.

So, what is probate? 

We’ve talked about someone who has a will or a designated beneficiary, but what if someone does not have those things?

That’s where probate comes in. For example, if a single woman dies with a home and hasn’t left a joint tenant or a designated beneficiary, that home will have to go through probate. Probate is the judicial process where a will (if there is one) is proved in a court and accepted as a valid document that is the true last testament of the deceased. If a person dies without a will, and their property is not left to someone (like a joint tenant or designated beneficiary) their property will also have to go through probate. In this case, the court distributes their property according to state statute. This is why it is important to have a will, to tell the court and your loved ones who should get your property and assets. 

Probate is lengthy and expensive, but you can save time and money now by talking to your lawyer about having an estate plan to avoid probate. Robertson and Williams are the lawyers you need to get your estate in order to avoid probate in the future and can help you through the probate process of a loved one now. Not sure if you need to go through probate for a loved one’s property? Give us a call and we can help!  

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